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Best Time to Visit Redwood National Park (Explore Giant Redwoods!)

Plan the perfect visit to Redwood National Park! Summer is prime for giant redwoods, hiking, and wildlife. Avoid winter for hiking, enjoy cheaper winter travel.

Tobi Miles
August 19, 2022
Best Time to Visit Redwood National Park (Explore Giant Redwoods!)

The Redwood National Park, located along the coastlines of California, is believed to be home to the oldest and tallest Redwood trees (standing over 375 feet). Yes, it is open to everyone all year round, but when is the best time to visit Redwood National Park?

The best time to visit Redwood National Park is during the Summer, between late May and mid-September. The average temperature on the high side is typically 68°F (20°C) during the day and can get as low as 49.6°F (9.8°C) at night. This time of year is great for hiking the popular Avenue of Giants trails and Trillium Falls.

The Redwood National Park is most popular for its Redwood groves that cover thousands of acres. Walking between these redwood trees in the park will make one realize how big our world is.

A bigger realization will hit you when you discover that many of those trees are at least 2000 years older than the oldest human. Let's take you through things you need to know about Redwood National Park.

When Should You Not Visit Redwood National Park?

Winter is certainly not the best time to visit Redwood National Park. At no time of the year does Redwood National Park stop delivering goodness; however, winter seems a less convenient time to visit.

Visiting the Redwoods National Park in winter might not be as fun as you might want it. Heavy rainfalls are a common occurrence during the winter season in the Redwood area. If hiking or camping is your visiting purpose, you might want to reconsider.

Throughout winter, campsites and trails turn into swamps and muddy rivers due to near-constant downpours. Some campgrounds and trails even get closed depending on the weather.

The temperature during this period is usually between 40°C and 50°C.

When is the Cheapest Time to go to Redwood National Park?

The cheapest time to go to Redwood National Park is winter, which is also the low season.

During December and January, you can clinch the best air travel fares and hotel accommodation deals available in northwest California, where the park is located.

The winter rain is responsible for the drop in visits, and because of this, the cost of visiting the park reduces to its lowest of the year. If rain isn't much of a problem for you, visiting the Redwood National Park between November and February is the best bet.

Along with having a feel of the world's tallest tree known as 'Hyperion,' the park offers many other experiences that won't be escaping your memory any time soon.

If the cost of visiting is the only thing stopping you from heading out there to get that taste of adventure, then this one is what you've been looking for.

Related Read: 20 Best Camping Spots In Northern California

What Time of Year is the Best Weather in Redwood National Park?

June, August, and September are times of the year with the best weather in Redwood National Park. These are the peak seasons of summer.

August and September are the warmest months of the year, and these months have the least rainfall, which is very good because the park can get very muddy after every rainfall.

The location of the Redwood National Park causes it to be under-visited. A lot of fun seekers underrated this wonder of the world as an adventure destination. The location has helped to a large extent to preserve its beauty and keep the park almost untouched.

We have prepared a detailed write-up to serve as a guide for your next adventure. We'll show you experiences to look out for and engage in each month of the year.

January: Wildlife Watching

January is still the peak of winter here, and the charms that come with it are still aloof. One of these charms is its diverse wildlife. Redwood National Park is home to some of the most exotic animals on the planet.

January is a cool winter month, with about 17 days of rainfall. The temperature is usually between 53.4°F (11.9°C) and 35.8°F (2.1°C) when it goes low. Some of the wildlife that you can experience in the park throughout January are:

Birds: Redwood's location and climate support a huge diversity of birds (over 280 species of them), and with each climate change comes an opportunity to watch some great species of birds.

January is an ideal to come out and watch the Great-horned owls and other beautiful and rare species of owls. Another interesting species of birds that populate this park are the Warblers. They include the Yellow-rumped, Townsend, Nashville, and MacGillivray's Warblers.

Roosevelt Elks: Weighing up to 1,100 pounds and one of the largest members of the elk family, Roosevelt Elks, are Redwood National Park's resident elks.

The abundance of Roosevelt Elks makes them the most easily viewed wildlife in the park. They are observable from all parts of the park, although denser in Redwood State Park's Prairie Creek, south of the Klamath River, Gold Bluff's creek, and in the Orick area.

For several reasons, January is the best time to come to watch these wild Elks. The make elk sports its large antlers in late summer and to its fullest during winter. Also, elks are naturally wild and unpredictable, so a lot of caution must be observed around them.

Elks are most aggressive in fall when they mate and in spring when they are calving; by the time it gets to January, they would have entered one of their calmest phases. Still, it is better to observe them from a safe distance.

Gray Whales: January offers a great chance to watch gray whales traveling close to the coastline. Visitors get the opportunity to have a first-hand experience of gray whale migration watching from the Klamath River Overlook shore, Wilson Creek, Thomas H. Kuchel Visitor Center, High Bluff Overlook, or the Crescent Beach Overlook.

The overlook is high above the water level, giving visitors a perfect view of the whales and other wildlife like sea lions and birds. Having a binocular in hand is recommended to give you the best whale-watching experience.

Wildlife watching can be done all year round but wintertime, in particular January, is a great time to experience the Park's breathtaking ecosystem.

  • Bowl of Beans
  • Arcata Marsh New Year's Day Walk
  • Clam Beach Run

Related Read: 15 BEST California State Parks!

February: Trail Hiking

Want to go hiking? Then February is that time of the year you should plan your trip towards. The weather then is nice, and aside from the few times it might rain, February is a good time to hit the trails and sweat it out.

February is the last month of Winter, and the temperature is almost the same as January. The average high temperature is 55°F (12.8°C), and the low is 36.5°F (2.5°C).

The best way to view this large expanse of nature's gift has to be by hiking. With over 200 miles of coverable trails, hiking through the Redwood National Park allows you to view Beaches, huge redwoods, spruce trees, and wildlife. Some of the most interesting trails in the park are:

Coastal Trail: The coastal hiking trail gives you a breathtaking beach view. Hiking through the coastal Trail is especially good for watching migrating whales. The coastal trail covers more than 70 miles of land in length.

The coastal trail is popular for its versatility and is divided into several sections for ease of exploration. Many of the sections in this trail are very easy to hike as they are on flat terrain.

When hiking the coastal trail, check in with a ranger first or pay attention to trail signs, as some trails might get closed at certain times due to weather.

The coastal trail is many visitors' favorite hiking trail, so that it might get crowded sometimes. However, if you want to avoid crowds, it is better to set out early or later in the day.

James Irvine Trail: The James Irvine trail is 4.5 miles of beautiful scenery. It is a beautiful one-way trail that goes through Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park and leads further to the beach at Fern Canyon.

Many ancient redwoods line this trail, some reaching a diameter of as much as 18 feet. Also visible on this trail are trees like Maple, tanoak, and Alda. There is also a large abundance of Western hemlock, Sitka spruce, and Douglas fir.

Lady Bird Johnson Grove: The Lady Bird Johnson Grove is a great point to start hiking in the park. Located not far from highway 101, it is one of the most popular hiking trails in the Redwood National Park.

At just 1.5 miles, Ladybird Johnson Grove trail is short and close to the Kuchel Visitor Center, making it family-friendly. This park reeks of nature's serenity. The road on the Lady Bird Johnson Grove is quite narrow and unsuitable for most vehicles, except for small ones.

This hiking trail was named after a former US first lady, Lady Bird Johnson, by President Nixon in 1969 for her efforts in green life and environmental conservation. Visitors can still see the dedication plaque naming the grove in the park, half a mile down the Lady Bird Johnson Grove trail.

Events in February:

  • Firemen's Games
  • Humboldt Marble Weekend

March: Scenic Drive Through Avenue of The Giants

This time of the year is a perfect time to have a drive with friends through the scenic avenue of The GiantsMarch is the first month of spring, and the temperature is quite moderate. The average temperature ranges from 55.9°F (13.3°C) highest to a minimum low temperature of 38.1°F (3.4°C).

The Avenue of Giants is a 31-mile road In northern California and one of the best highways in the sun city. This scenic highway drive parallels Humboldt Redwoods State Park's Highway 101.

This road is lined with the tallest stretch of giant Redwood, hence the highway name- The Avenue of Giants. Depending on where you will be traveling, The Avenue of Giants can be accessed through Exit 672 or Exit 645 off HWY 101.

The avenue, which takes about 2 hours and 30 minutes to drive through from start to end, has several Visitor attractions.

Shine Drive Thru Tree: One of the most popular tourist attractions on the avenue of Giants is the Shrine Drive Thru Tree. You can pay a small fee to be allowed to drive your car through the trunk of this huge tree.

Boiling Grove: Another attraction you should also make sure to stop along this highway is the Boiling Grove; it has many huge trees.

Founders Grove and Dyerville Giant: This place has one of the largest fallen trees and an array of standing Redwoods. The fallen trees give you a mind-blowing perspective of how huge these trees are.

Events in March:

  • Foggy Bottoms Milk Run
  • Aleutian Geese Fly-off
  • Daffodils by the River Flower Show

Related Read: 10 Best San Francisco Hikes

April: National Park Week

National Park Week is observed in April every year to celebrate nature around man and take time to explore more historical parks. Now, why is this interesting?

The national park week celebrations mean there would be four free days for visitors. You can take advantage of the National Park week in April to explore the Redwood National Park as much as you want, for as long as four days!

The atmosphere in April is very mild and comfortable. The average temperature of April varies between 56.8°F (13.8°C) and 39.9°F (4.4°C).

  • Rhododendron Parade
  • Perilous Plunge into Humboldt Bay
  • Dolbeer Steam Donkey Days
  • Godwit Days 2022!

May: Backpacking Through The Lost Coast

This time of the year is perfect for backpacking through the 75-mile Lost Coast, one of the last wild coasts left in California. May is the last month of spring, and the atmosphere is moderate. Temperatures can get as high as 60.6°F (15.9°C), and the average low is 44.1°F (6.7°C).

The Lost Coast goes along the edge of the Pacific Ocean and gives backpackers an exciting sea life spectacle. Visitors on this trail will walk past sandy beaches, waterfalls that drop right into larger bodies of water, and colonies of sea lions.

  • Avenue of the Giants Marathon
  • College of Redwoods Commencement
  • Rutabaga Ball
  • Kinetic Grand Championship

June: Visit Trillium Falls

June is officially the start of Summer and a perfect time to head out to see the Trillium Falls. The average temperature for this month is between 63.3°F (17.4°C) and 47.7°F (8.7°C).

Located at Elk Meadow, south of the parks, the Trillium Falls is a family-friendly hiking trail that goes through ancient redwoods, trillium flowers, huge Firs, ferns, and Maple trees.

This beautiful trail has great options for parking and picnics, and park rangers often recommend this trail, especially for families with kids. After passing the redwood grooves, visitors finally arrive at the waterfall from which the trail is named.

The waterfall is a great spot to take pictures and also a turnaround point because, at that point, most of the trail's beauty has already been explored. Herds of Roosevelt Elks can be seen along the way grazing in the meadows.

  • Redwood Run
  • Arcata Oyster Festival
  • Trinidad Fish Festival
  • Garberville Rodeo

Related Read: Western National Parks Road Trip: U.S.A

July: Visit Kuchel Visitor Center

This time is good to tour the Kuchel Visitor Center in the Orick township and its tourist-friendly environs. If you are visiting on a budget, it is free to explore. The weather in July is very comfortable, and it is the month with the least rainfall. Temperatures are usually at a maximum of 64.9°F (18.3°C) and a minimum of  50.4°F (10.2°C).

Typically, the Kuchel Visitor Center should be the first stop point for every visitor to Redwood National Park because there, you'll be able to get bearings and be given great tips on exploring the park to its fullest.

There is also a gift shop in the center. The Freshwater Lagoon, Dust falls, and the Lady Bird Johnson Grove are not too far from it.

  • Orick Rodeo
  • Get Out and Play Day
  • Roll on the Mattole

August: Outdoor Camping

Do you want to go camping in the woods? Do so in August. With very enjoyable weather and the last month of summer,  this is the best time for outdoor camping. Temperatures can go from 50.7°F (10.4°C) to 65.1°F (18.4°C) at any time in August. This month has very nice weather with barely two days of rainfall.

While hiking, outdoor camping can be done in the park's developed campgrounds or several country campsites. The state manages four developed campgrounds and can only be obtained by reservations.

Campsites are reservable for up to 30 days (although 15 in summer), and they come with fire pits, picnic tables, and lockers for bear food storage. Some of the popular campgrounds are:

  1. Gold Bluffs Beach Campground
  2. Mill Creek Campground
  3. Elk Prairie Campground
  4. Panther Flat Campground
  5. Jedediah Smith Campground

Some other events that can be enjoyed in August include:

  • Hops in Humboldt
  • Woofstock
  • Wildwood Days

September: Swimming and Paddling in The Smith River

Along with August, September is the warmest time of the year in this region, and what better time to go in for a dip in The Smith River? With September comes autumn and very warm weather. Max temperature is usually at 65.1°F (18.4°C), and the minimum is around 47.5°F (8.6°C).

After a day of hiking through the park, it is just right to cool off in the river; September being a warm month, the water will be just the right temperature for swimming.

The scenic Smith River is California's largest free-flowing river system, and it is popular among tourists for padding and kayaking. If you love water sports, September is the best month to Visit.

  • Taste of the Cove
  • Flynn Creek Circus
  • Bicycle Tour of the Unknown Coast
  • Redwood Coast Music Festival

October: Visit Fern Canyon; Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park

October is the best time to go to the canyons. Fern Canyon is one of the most interesting parts of the Redwood National Park. It is simply spectacular. October is an enjoyable month; there is a minimal amount of rainfall. The temperature is usually between 62.6°F and 43°F.

The canyon's walls are about 30 feet, covered with five-fingered ferns and dripping with water. If you're visiting the Fern canyons of the Prairie Creek Redwood State Park, wear light clothes as you might get wet, and you wouldn't want to feel drenched in heavy coats.

A fun fact; several popular movies and documentaries have been shot at the Fern Canyon, most popular of which are 'The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Dinosaurs Alive! from IMAX, and BBC's Walking with Dinosaurs.'

The canyon environment is safe for kids and equipped with standard bathroom facilities and picnic tables.

  • Prairie Creek Redwoods 5K Run/Walk
  • Redwood Pride Celebration
  • Hoptoberfest
  • Trick or Treating on the Plaza

November: Newton B. Drury Scenic Byway

November's moderate temperature provides an ambient atmosphere to drive through the Newton B. Drury Scenic Byway. The average temperature falls between the range of 56.7°F (13.7°C) and 38.8°F (3.8°C).

This beautiful 10-mile drive byway is an alternative to highway 101. This road can accommodate vehicles of any size, and you should grab every opportunity to drive through this scenic tunnel of thousands of acres of old-growth redwood forests.

Newton B. Drury Scenic Byway houses more miles of redwood than Highway 101. Taking exit 765 or exit 753 will lead you to the beautiful Byway.

The parkway is named after Newton Drury, a man who spent the most productive years of his life protecting these forests.

  • Fig Twig Holiday Market
  • Holiday Craft Faire
  • HBMS Mushroom Fair
  • Turkey Trot 5K Run/Walk

December: Redwood Creek Overlook

Head out to Redwood National Park in December to catch the best glimpse of sunset you've ever seen. Winter doesn't start here until it's finally December, it is the coldest month of the year, and the temperature is usually between 35.4°F (1.9°C) and 52.7°F (11.5°C).

Redwood Creek Overlook is the best spot to catch the sun setting. Located East of Orick on Bald Hills Road, the overlook is about 1,000ft above sea level. This spot is very popular for its cloud inversion.

Redwood Creek overlooks thousands of acres of the old-growth redwood forest. Sightseeing from this spot is free, and you don't need a permit.

When heading out in December, remember to go with an umbrella or, if possible, raincoats as it tends to rain a lot during this period.

  • Candlelight Walk in the Redwoods
  • Humboldt Artisans Crafts & Music Festival
  • Winter Arts Faire – Mateel
  • Southern Humboldt’s Small Town Christmas

When is The Best Time to Visit Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park?

The best time to visit Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park in August. August has the least rainfall in the area, making it ideal for hiking and camping.

People who visited during rainy seasons have severally complained of mud. So if you'll be going out there, it's best to go when the ground is driest.

What is The Best Time to Visit Redwood National Park With Family?

Summer, particularly June, is the best time to visit Redwood National Park with family. The park is at its peak season, and there are loads of activities to engage everyone in.

Also, it is the ideal time to hike the Trillium Falls trail, the most family-friendly, and visit the waterfall to take pictures.

What is The Best Time to Visit Gold Bluffs Beach?

There is no bad time to visit Gold Bluffs Beach; it is amazing all year round. However, January is the best if you are visiting to view the wildlife, especially elks. Elks are easily observable in January, and you can see them on Gold Bluffs beach.

Best Month to Visit Redwood National Park to Avoid Crowds

If you want to visit Redwood National Park and go when there is less crowd, go in January. January has the lowest turnout of visitors to the park every year.

This is due to the weather. Even though it's California; people typically don't want to take a trip in the winter time due to the risk of being stranded away from their home state.

When is The Best Time for a Winter Trip to Redwood National Park?

The best time for a winter trip to Redwood National Park is in February. Of all the other winter months, February is the most balanced, with less cost of visiting and lower rainfalls, and there are just a handful of visitors during this period.

Tobi Miles
Article updated:
March 28, 2024
A nomadic wordsmith savoring the world's flavors and penning stories that turn every journey into an epic.
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